My first thought was to blame the Zhu Zhu Pets. Those little critters are mischievous. I'm always catching them out of the side of my eye. They freak me the fuck out is what they do. No one with severe musophobia should allow their child to keep presents like this that well-intentioned loved ones give them.
But it wasn't the little rats. When I asked Katie what it was about, she explained the crime scene like this:
"We were using the gun to shoot the werewolf that was attacking BoBo puppy."
I must have winced or something. She gave me a much too-mature eye roll and said, "It's just a fake gun, though, Mom. It's a WATER gun."
Well, so there.
I don't believe in making Katie always pick up her toys. My friends who have been through the maze of toys in my house will be unfazed by this statement.
My mom used to let me keep my Barbies out all summer long so I wouldn't have to waste time setting up each day and could just take up the story where we had left off the previous day. I think Mom read an article in Ladies' Home Journal or McCalls or something that mentioned some study that shows kids who engage in lots of unstructured play grow up to be more creative thinkers than do other kids. She took that to mean messes are good. She also put my baby crib in the middle of the room because she read that babies whose cribs are in a corner or against a wall tend to be less creative than babies who have more open space surrounding them.
I think because I was rarely made to pick up my toys it feels natural to be this way with Katie too. Sure, several times I've questioned my sanity. Usually right after I just about broke my leg trying to get from her bedroom door to her dresser to dump in her undies--never folded, just tossed. Mom read that kids whose underwear are neatly folded inside the draw are boring and humorless. Something like that.
But I'm not concerned with enabling Katie's creativity. The kid needs no help from me. I don't want her to pick up her toys simply because when I later stumble upon them, I get to see a little piece of the inner workings of that crazy creative kids's imagination.
As long as I don't literally stumble on them and destroy the set.